- Unmesh Korde (MD)
- Suleman Merchant (MD, Former Dean, Sion Hospital)
This talk was the latest in a series of online seminars being organised by Essar Foundation in association with Pasbaan-e-Adab which focused on post-Covid care and prevention of serious symptoms.
Dr. Korde introduced the moderator and panelist Dr. Merchant who shared medical fraternity’s concerns about the future of the pandemic.
Dr. Merchant emphasised that there were in-fact two pandemics affecting us simultaneously. In addition to the virus, the accompanying Vitamin-D deficiency in people can’t be ignored. With reduced exposure to sun due to lockdowns, the problem at hand has only increased.
Vitamin D and Covid-19
Dr. Merchant informed the participants that Vitamin D has been proven to strengthen our overall immunity, irrespective of our age, gender and overall health. He lamented that while there has been a constant focus on development of vaccines, the role played by our immunity systems has been ignored, unfortunately.
As the world grapples with multiple waves of Covid, we must be prepared for the long haul. That would include working on our mental and physical health as we go through months, and possible years of Covid related threats.
An ideal Vitamin D concentration (between 60-80 nano-grams per milliliter of blood) would slow the binding of Covid with our body’s receptor cells. This slows or stops the spread of Covid infection, and the likelihood of patient dying from Covid would decrease.
Dr. Merchant provided snapshots of multiple European and Israeli studies that back this claim.
Dr. Merchant introduced the medical concept of epigenetics to the participatns. Epigenetics are factors that affect how our genetics influence our behavior and features. Simply put, epigenetics control gene expressions.
Dr. Merchant further cautioned about how overmedication can interfere with our epigenetics and cause us further issues in the longer run. In order to avoid this unfortunate happening, we should build immunity and decrease our dependence on chemical medicines.
The speaker added that Vitamin D affects almost 2000 genes in our body and thus is crucial for our well-being, which in turn reduces our chances of getting severe Covid.
REASONS FOR DEFICIENCY
Our modern lifestyles have limited our skin’s exposure to the sun. We venture out in cars and covered vehicles, we cover our bodies from the sun. All this reduces the absorption of Vitamin D by our bodies. As a result, even people who live in temperate and torrid regions face a shortage of natural Vitamin D.
IMMUNITY and VITAMIN D
Dr. Merchant mentioned that many doctors have suggested use of Vitamin D supplements for people who are at a high risk of severe Covid, and this research might turn a new page and bring in hope in our fight against SARS-COVID virus.
Vitamin D is also necessary for our body to absorb other essential nutrients like calcium. People who consume calcium tablets have to ensure that they have a high levels of Vitamin D which ensures that calcium is fully absorbed by their bodies.
INDIA v/s the WEST
A participant asked the doctor whether differing climatic conditions in India when compared to the west make us better off when it comes to natural intake of Vitamin D. The doctor clarified and said that geography is one factor that affects our natural Vitamin D intake.
Adding on, Dr. Merchant said, “Another important factor is the skin, which is how the body absorbs sunlight. Light skin is able to absorb more vitamin D as people with light skin tones have lesser quantity of melanin in their body. Conversely, Indians usually have fairly high levels of melanin in their skin and thus might not be as sensitive to the sun as people from the west.”
Dr. Merchant reiterated his belief that in near future the fight against Covid would be heavily dependent on our natural immunity. He mentioned that Vitamin D will play a key role in building this much needed immunity and strength. He also spoke about the importance of naturally available nutrients over blindly relying on man-made medicinal interventions that often have side effects.
NOTE: The talk was conducted to share knowledge on recent developments in the medical field in our quest to overcome Covid. The contents of this talk should not be interpreted as professional medical advice. Please reach out to your physician if you experience any symptoms.